The average age of construction workers in the United States is 40 years old, and this number has been on a steady rise. This raises the question: How old is too old to work in construction? There is no clear-cut answer.
Nearly half of construction workers are baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964), so there are plenty of construction workers pushing 70 years old. The law requires that construction workers be at least 16 years old, so there is tremendous range in terms of the age of construction workers.
As for how old is too old to work in construction, it isn’t so much a matter of age, but a matter of physical and mental health. If a construction worker stays in good physical condition, then there’s no reason why age should impede his or her ability to work. Simply being able to keep up so that the physically-demanding work does not become too much to bear will allow people who fall above the 40 year old average to continue working in the field of construction.
There is a mental side to this equation, too, though. A mental lapse can prove to be deadly—not just for the worker committing the error, but others involved on the project, as well. So it’s important that construction workers stay on top on the mental side, too. If so, workers can work well into their 50s and beyond.
So as long as workers can stay in peak physical and mental condition, doing construction is not too onerous of a task. The real constraint is the natural physical (and sometimes mental) regression that comes with aging. But if workers can stave off this decay—be it through exercise and other physical activity—there’s no reason that they shouldn’t be able to work long after the average.
One might suspect that younger, seemingly more vital workers will be more popular hires by construction companies, but that is not so. In fact, the experience that older construction workers bring to the table is attractive to prospective employers. Not only can it indicate better knowledge of the ins and outs of construction, it also shows commitment and an ability to stay in good disciplinary standing.
Construction may not seem like a field cut out for older workers, but construction workers are getting older, and, if they can maintain the necessary physical and mental attributes, they are in fact a prized commodity for employers.